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Three simple words that pose a complex riddle for so many of us. It’s different for everyone and I certainly won’t pretend to know the universal answer. For some, it simply comes down to the amount of time spent away from work, not thinking about anything work related and definitely not checking emails or fielding work related calls.
The only glitch here is the life side of the equation is made up of so many varied facets; hobbies, family, friends, sport, interests, personal purists, education, relaxation, sleep! When you factor in the 8+ hour workday, the ‘life’ end of the scale shrinks to a fairly unsatisfactory portion. It’s a curse to throw in the word balance where physically the hours of the week simply can’t equate to anything even close.
Trying to make the most of every waking second outside of work can be exhausting and entirely contradictory to the required downtime we so desperately seek when outside the workplace. But what is the alternative? Missing out on life so we can recharge for work? That’s completely void of balance.
Perhaps distinguishing the two and expecting to find balance between them is the root cause of failure. Work is such a significant part of life, and not only from the sheer number of hours it eats up in the day.
Hopefully, work is ticking some other vital components to life; feeding a sense of self, being able to add value, being able to contribute, being social to some degree, being productive and feeling a sense of worth in doing so. Achieving. Being valued. Growing and learning and feeling like you’re a part of something.
These are wonderful aspects of life: fulfilling and meaningful and rewarding and if work can tick some, if not all, of these boxes then I think that’s a good start to finding some balance to working as a part of life. The nature of your career and whatever it is you’re working toward should be energizing you for life. Those 8-hours should be cultivating a part of you that recognises your abilities and capacity for successes.
There is no right of passage to finding this enigmatic state of zen. Work will undoubtedly at one point or another serve up a whack of stress and intensity and anxiety, undoing so many of the positives you were enjoying. Perhaps that is unmistakably the true balance; the highs and lows. Take the good with the bad. Draw from the positives and learn from the negatives.
And most importantly, know your limits. When a job no longer feeds any positivity into your day-to-day, it might be time to move on. With respect, no job is going to be glowing sunshine cupcake eating bunny-cuddling glory every day so have a little perspective on what really matters to you. Do you feel needed? Are you learning? Is there value to add? Are you achieving what you set out to do?
There might not be balance necessarily but there should be enjoyment. Perhaps that is a more reasonable aspiration for which we can all strive.